As I reported a while ago I have been very busy - in my spare time - backing up my collection of CD's. Unfortunately this process is taking a lot longer than I anticipated. And the backing-up process itself is not a very pleasant or exciting one. In fact, it is just slightly more entertaining than watching paint dry.
So every now and then I like to take a break. Earlier this week I broke the monotony by listening to and digitising a few cassettes. And I was so pleasantly surprised by one of these that I decided to share it with you in this post.
This cassette is a (more than likely bootleg) version of the first of two lp's released in 1979 on the Disco Stock label in Abidjan by guitarist Djelimadi Tounkara and the Rail Band du Mali. Graeme Counsel has dedicated a page on his website to these two albums, which to be honest leaves me slightly confused. He writes: "Djelimady Tounkara was the lead guitarist of the Rail Band until 1979 when, with Mory Kanté, he left to form L'Orchestre Super Rail Band International in Abidjan. He rejoined the Rail Band in 1984. The above recordings were released on the Disco Stock label and finds the group at their creative peak, with the tracks "Dosoke cery" and "Djiguiya" stand-out numbers. Tounkara is one of West Africa's foremost guitarists, and is well supported by the keyboard solos and the excellent brass arrangements."
These recordings are from 1979, but does this mean that they are in fact by "L'Orchestre Super Rail Band International"?
Although neither the cassette sleeve (right) nor the lp sleeve of the Disco Stock lp (left) mentions the "Orchestre Super Rail Band International" I am inclined to believe the answer to this question is "yes".
The two tracks Graeme cites are both from the second volume*. I am surprised he has left out what I consider to be the highlight of this first volume: the brilliant, passionate version of "Soundiata" by Mory Kanté.
To be honest, I started off on the wrong foot with Mory Kanté. The first songs I heard, in the mid-1980s, were from his European albums, 'culminating' in the hit "Yeke Yeke", - which even gave rise to a sentiment bordering on resentment. It took me more than ten years to get over this negative feeling. Since then I have come to appreciate especially his older work, like for example the wonderful album he made as part of the ensemble of kora legend Batourou Sekou Kouyaté. This version of that Malinké classic "Soundiata" is another of my favourite Mory Kanté songs.
On the three other tracks of this album the emphasis is on the instrumental. The guitar playing by Djelimadi is in the typical Malinké style. Nowadays he regularly accompanies griots from his native Kita (like diva Kandia Kouyaté). On this record too he stays close to his roots.
Notable too are the penetrating organ chords, particularly on "Nama" (another** version of the song about a historic sinking of the ship of the same name on the Niger river?) and "Famadenke" (see my earlier post and the link to the history and lyrics of this song). But I certainly don't want to leave out the horn section, which in my opinion is classical in its own right.
Kosmo KS 230 [Disco Stock DS 7918, 1979)
EXTRA LINK (MF)
* which, if you like, I will gladly post later.
** well before the one by National Badema.